The book of Hebrews is full of incredibly rich teaching on the person and work of Jesus Christ. The last verses of chapter four mark the beginning of a lengthy discussion of Christ’s work as our High Priest—a theme that lies at the heart of the Gospel message. As our High Priest, Christ sympathises with us (4:15), represents us before God (5:1), perfectly obeyed the Father’s will in His life and death on earth (5:8), and “became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (5:9).
Deep theological truth is a wonderful thing. The author of the book of Hebrews obviously thought it was very important for his readers to know all of this about Christ’s work as our great high priest. There was only one problem: the people to whom he was writing weren’t able to handle all of this rich theology. The author laments that he has many more things to say, though he is not sure that his readers will profit from it: the teaching is complicated and involved (“hard to be uttered”), and his readers are “dull of hearing” (5:11).
The author explains the problem a little further. These Hebrews were likely members of the older Christian communities in Palestine, so they were more experienced than most in the Christian life. They “ought to be teachers” by now, says the author (5:12). Their experience, however, had not translated into maturity: they needed to be taught “the first principles” of God’s word all over again. They should be ready for the strong meat that grown men and women eat, but they are only able to digest a baby’s milk.
What a tragedy! The author wants to give them some really great spiritual steak (filet mignon, even): the truths of the high priestly work of Christ, and all of its incredibly wonderful implications for the believer. Alas, because they are immature, these Hebrew Christians can’t handle it, and they have to settle for the same old baby mush.
That’s the problem with immaturity: it keeps us back from a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, a deeper understanding of His gospel, and a closer familiarity with the results of His saving work. Our worship suffers as a result, for we have less to include in our praises. Our witness suffers, because we have less to offer hopeless sinners. Our churches suffer, because they have fewer teachers of the Word. Our prayer life suffers, because we have fewer promises to plead.
Let maturity, then, be the aim of every Christian.